(updated at 10:40 a.m. Wednesday)
The New York Times crossword by Kevin Der packs in six theme entries with a unifying BABY at 53-Down, plus all manner of au courant techspeak. In the latter category, we have an iPHONE ([Macworld 2007 debut]), a URL ([WWW address]), CHAT ([Online activity]), RIP clued as [Copy, as from CD to PC], WEBCAMS ([Videoconferencing devices]), and TEXT clued as [Communicate without speaking]. Throw in the DATA that's [What pollsters need], and that makes a whopping seven high-tech answers. The theme entries are all phrases whose first word can follow BABY:
I extend kudos to Kevin for putting GRAND POOBAH into a puzzle. That Wikipedia article reminds me that I picked up that phrase from The Flintstones and Happy Days. The quasi-theme of computers and cell phones is fun, and I also liked the gambling combo of ODDS-ON ([Heavily favored]) and HOT TIP ([Tout's offering]).
Donna Levin's Sun crossword, "You've Got Male," includes six male animals at the end of the theme entries:
The theme entries make a lively batch of phrases, don't they? IDAHO gets a topical clue, [Where Sarah Palin was born]. I like NORTH and STAR clued together via [With 35-Down, Polaris].
Don't be fooled by the imminence of October 31—Brendan Quigley's Onion A.V. Club crossword may have a theme clue that reads [Characters who "haunt" this puzzle's theme answers], but there's no Halloween scaring going on here. The "haunters" in question are THE PACMAN GHOSTS, and their names appear in other contexts in the other theme entries:
Tough stuff pops up throughout this puzzle. [Obliquely] clues ASKANT, which is another version of askance. XEON is an [Intel processor]. MARL is an [Earthy deposit]. RUB is clued [Get the knots out of, say], as in Swedish massage and muscle knots. ARMA is the [First word of the "Aeneid"]. SST is a [Record label started by Black Flag]. A [1962 musical co-directed by Bob Fosse] is LITTLE ME. U-TWO is a [Classic spy plane]. T'PAU is the ["Heart & Soul" one-hit wonder who took their name from a "Star Trek" character].
In his Ink Well/Chicago Reader puzzle, "Ladies and Gentlemen," Ben Tausig has crafted a super-Scrabbly crossword filled with X's. The "ladies" theme entries contain XX, in honor of women's XX chromosomes, and the "gentlemen" answers contain XY:
Favorite clues: [Final event?] for FUNERAL; [Substance of a newspaper article?] for INK; [Mad skills, as it were] for WIZARDRY; [Character issue?] for DYSLEXIA; [Take, and be taken by, someone with whom you're taken] for WED; [Highway crosser] for DEER; [Presley's middle name] for MARIE (as in Lisa MARIE Presley); and ["Smooth move, ___!"] for EX-LAX.
OXYMORON and OXYGENIC fill out the theme, clued with [Original copies, e.g.] and [Like some photosynthesis], respectively.
Raymond Hamel's LA Times crossword is gushing with theme entries: Each one begins with a word that means "something from which a stream of water may issue" in a different context. To [Rant and rave] is TO SPOUT NONSENSE. [Writer with a reservoir] is a FOUNTAIN PEN with an ink reservoir. A [Fast flier] is a JET AIRLINER. And one [Youngster metaphor] is SPRING CHICKEN. A rather subtle theme, isn't it? There's no title or unifying answer to make the connection between the theme entries obvious. This puzzle has some trivia clues. LIFE is clued as the [Board game whose earliest version came out in 1860]. 1860?! Wow. I like the '70s and '80s version of the game better than today's SpongeBob Life edition. Hey, I liked having to buy life insurance and other insurance policies. DUBAI is the [Second-most populous of the United Arab Emirates]. ALBERTA is an [Oil-rich Canadian province]. Did you know Ray Hamel's a hardcore trivia nut? It's true. He's in Ken Jennings' book, Brainiac.
Randolph Ross's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Layoffs," may be a harbinger of future unemployment, as each theme entry presents another layoff:
October 14, 2008